FRESNO, Calif. - Utah Valley held a 2-1 lead over UC Davis in the opening match of the Fresno State Classic Friday evening in Fresno, Calif., but couldn't finish off the Aggies (3-4), as the Wolverines (2-4) dropped the contest in five sets (15-25, 25-13, 28-26, 19-25, 10-15).
"We dug ourselves in too big of a hole in that fifth set. We can't let teams get out to that large of a lead against us," UVU volleyball coach Sam Atoa said. "We did manage to fight back, but we just weren't the better team. We have got to be able to control what we do at the net and I felt like we just didn't do that tonight."
In the opener, the Wolverines trailed early but a 4-0 spurt that was aided by two aces from UVU sophomore McKenna Tait tied the first set at 11-all. UC Davis took the upper hand from there, however, as it scored 14 of the final 18 points in the set to take the opener by 10 points.
But the Wolverines bounced back in the second set as they jumped out to a commanding 13-2 lead. Tait and juniors Brookelyn Hall and Katie Fritzler sparked the run by each tallying multiple kills during the stretch. Tait and Hall also added a couple of service aces down the stretch as UVU cruised to a 25-13 second set victory to knot the scoreboard at 1-1. Fritzler led the way in the set with four kills, while Tait chipped in three of her own, as well as two block assists. In the frame, the Wolverines outhit the Aggies .333 to -.025.
The third set was a different story from the first two as it was tightly contested. UVU took its largest advantage of the set at 20-15 but back came the Aggies by rolling off six consecutive points to take a 21-20 lead. A block from Fritler and senior Erica Nish later gave the Wolverines a 24-22 lead but back-to-back kills from UC Davis tied the set at 24-all. The set continued on into extra points until freshman Lauren Stringham drilled home two straight kills to give the Wolverines the 2-1 lead with a 28-26 third set victory. Stringham led UVU in the set with five kills. The Wolverines found themselves trailing 10-6 in the fourth set but three straight Aggie attack errors and a Nish and Stringham block tied the score at 10-10. The set stayed close from there until the Aggies managed to score three straight points to take a 23-18 advantage. Nish drilled home a late kill for the Wolverines, but it wasn't enough as UC Davis took the set 25-19 and pushed the contest to a decisive fifth set.
UC Davis kept the momentum in its favor in the early stages in the fifth set, as it jumped out to a 5-0 lead. A kill by Fritzler put an end to the Aggie run, but UC Davis maintained the upper hand by jumping out to an 8-2 lead. Later trailing 12-4, the Wolverines pulled within two, at 12-10, after six straight points. Tait had two kills and two block assists during the stretch but that was the last points the Wolverines would score as Mary Schroeder helped UC Davis put the match away by scoring the final two points via the kill.
Despite the loss, Tait had a solid match as she tallied a double-double with 11 kills, 12 digs and also added four aces and a career-high four block assists. Fritzler too reached double figures in kills as she recorded a career-high 10. Stringham also finished with season-highs of nine kills and six blocks. Hall also put up a double-double with a match-high 38 assists and 14 digs.
Allison Whitson led UC Davis with a double-double of 24 kills and 17 digs.
The Wolverines will continue play at the Fresno State Classic with two more matches Saturday at the Save Mart Center. UVU will face Sacramento State at 11 a.m. (MT) and will close out the tournament by taking on host Fresno State at 8 p.m. (MT).
"We are going to have to learn from the adverse situations we encountered tonight for us to be able to bounce back (against Sacramento State and Fresno State)," Atoa said.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com